Sunday, May 1, 2011

Quick trip to Gettysburg

You didn’t want to keep hearing about the weather did you? On and on, for months it’s been nothing but “Spring is coming… Ooops! It’s not, winter came back.” Yup, it was pretty boring for us, too. March can be a hard month. It’s allegedly May now. My father told me once that in Hungry, in the 1920s (my family was Hungarian) children ran out in the early morning on May first, picked flowers and made them into small bouquets tied with ribbons, and then left flowers hung on peoples’ doors – like Halloween in reverse, YOU deliver the treats. The “trick’ was to knock on the door and leave flowers when no one saw you do it.
I just checked. There aren’t any. Of course, there are Bill’s gorgeous daffies – he’s decided this year he likes the ones that look like fried eggs. I predict more daffies in our future… After the main garden is finished. But as for now, the garden is still way too wet to even think about planting it. After last year's early spring, this year feels like we're way behind.

We’re just back from Gettysburg, PA. I had a class there, and we went to see the battlefield. It’s kind of peppered with memorials. Here’s one… You can see real cannon balls piled up (and welded together) behind it.

At the cemetery, a herd of embarrassed teenagers were led by their teacher in a recitation of the Gettysburg address. It was really moving, and surprisingly not at all out of date, except for the “Four score and 7 years ago” part. We took a tour with a park ranger and found the experience wonderful. He talked a lot about the establishment of the first national cemetery, and we got a sense of the sadness of it. In those days, people really liked hearing speeches, and 16,000 people turned up to hear a noted professor deliver a 2-hour speech about the war, in the middle of the war. Mr. Lincoln was given only a few minutes at the end. But his is the speech people remember, and it’s as true today as it was 150 years ago. Later we had a chance to tell Mr. Lincoln himself.

Then we stopped at a few other places, including Little Round Top. Here’s what things look like from the Union position. You can see that it would have been very hard for anyone to sneak up on them, and very few people succeeded at it… which is of course why the Union troops won, along with having greater numbers, better food and better ammunition. Bill spent part of the next day exploring the battlefield from the Confederate side.

We saw interesting people in town. This is the beginning of the re-enactors’ season. A little strange to see a bunch of cars behind her, isn't it? She looks like she should have been handed out of a carriage by a gentleman in a top hat.

But I had a class to teach. It was held in a store that caters, among other things, to people who want to create their own Civil War era dresses and uniforms. Bill spent a little time talking with the husband of the store owner, and learned the same factory in England that made the fabric Union soldiers used for their uniforms is still making the fabric today. He commented that the fabric would look a bit different after time on a muddy battlefield and the store owner told him it cleans up pretty easily. But would you really want to wear wool in July?

The class was in the store’s back room. Kind of like my studio, only a bit larger. Here’s most of the class. In honor of where we were, I chose a Civil War theme for the projects, and people seemed pretty happy with them. I got a brochure when I came in, where the lace guild says “Karey Solomon comes down every April to teach for us.” This was my first time with this group, but I guess I’m coming down again!

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